Dutch entrepreneur Marcel Boekhoorn to acquire retailer Hema

Dutch retailer Hema announced today that it is in talks with entrepreneur Marcel Boekhoorn of investment company Ramphastos Investments to take over the chain, including debts, from current owner Lion Capital.


Hema store front - Photo: Hema

Hema said that together with the new owner it will focus on further investments in the Dutch market, online growth, international expansion and the improvement of its profitability in the coming years.

Tjeerd Jegen, CEO at Hema, said in a press release: “I am very pleased with Ramphastos as the new owner of Hema. This is the best scenario for Hema, our customers, employees and franchisees. Marcel Boekhoorn and his team have shown in recent years that they are involved in their participations, stimulate entrepreneurship and have a strong investment vision.”

Marcel Boekhoorn, entrepreneur and owner of Ramphastos, added: “Hema is an iconic brand with great international opportunities, but also in the Netherlands there are plenty of opportunities to expand. The acquisition fits into my [own] ambition to grow companies. Together with the Hema team and its franchisees, I want to make Hema a global brand.”

In order to develop itself into a global brand, Hema is looking for opportunities to work together with international partners to accelerate its international expansion.

Hema, owned by British investment company Lion Capital since 2007, has been for sale since September 2017. In December 2017, Dutch investors Gilde Buy Out Partners and Alpinvest made a joint bid on the retailer.

In April 2018, Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad reported that Lion Capital was struggling with the sale of the chain. Sources told the newspaper that ‘potential buyers have questioned the strength of the retail chain following its recovery. Furthermore, they believed that the seller was giving too rosy a picture of the retailer and therefore asking too high a price in return.’ The retailer was also rumored to may try for an IPO, since Hema CEO Tjeerd Jegen had previously not ruled out an IPO.

In May 2018, local newspapers reported that Belgian investment company Core Equity Holdings would acquire Hema. However, in June the Belgian investment company cancelled the possible sale of the Dutch retailer. Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, citing sources, reported that the investor called off the earlier oral agreement because too large of a share of the online sales flows to the franchisees of Hema.

In regard to the sale to Ramphastos, Hema has already made new agreements with the Association of Affiliated Companies (Vereniging van Aangesloten Bedrijven, VAB), the franchisees of Hema, including agreements in regard to e-commerce. Hema said that ‘the retailer and the VAB are aware that cooperation is the only way to move forward.’ As a result, all ongoing lawsuits have now been withdrawn, as well as the cancellation of franchise contracts.

Hema offers 30,000 of its own products and services, including apparel, beauty and home products. The retailer, which first opened its doors in 1926, operates more than 750 stores in nine countries and two continents and employs more than 19,000 people.

Marcel Boekhoorn’s Ramphastos, founded in 1994, currently has (predominantly majority) interests in more than 30 companies in various sectors. Boekhoorn is known for leading several companies to growth, expansion and market leadership, pursuing a buy-and-build strategy and attracting new customers, business partners and management teams.  Examples of successful investments include bakery chain Bakker Bart; mobile telecommunication company, Telfort and High Tech Campus Eindhoven.

Hema’s current owner, Lion Capital, purchased the chain in 2007 for €1.1 billion.

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